Penfriends whose romance blossomed through letters across the Irish Sea have celebrated their diamond wedding anniversary in north Norfolk.

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Ted and Brenda Barnett, who have lived in Walcott for the past 18 years, got to know each other when Brenda began writing to Ted, who was her best friend Wynne’s penfriend, in the early 1950s.

Brenda, then 25, worked with Wynne on a farm in Kelvedon, Essex.

“From the first letter I received from him I just knew he was special”, Mrs Barnett, 89, remembered.

“He wrote lovely letters and I responded by writing more to this man called Ted.”

Mr Barnett, 90, whose birthday is on Valentine’s Day, worked with his father in Londonderry from the age of 11 and trained as a carpenter/joiner, building shower units for coalminers.

“It was hard work but I always found time to write to my penfriends”, he said.

“Brenda’s letters became very special to me and our romance blossomed with words”.

When the couple eventually met, it was love at first sight. They later married at Braintree Register Office and honeymooned in Ireland, losing each other temporarily on Euston Station when Mr Barnett ended up on the wrong platform.

The couple had two sons and a daughter, and now have seven grandchildren.

They celebrated with local friends at Walcott Village Hall’s regular “Café Chat” session, turning it into a party when they arrived with a cake and bottles of bubbly to find everyone waiting to congratulate them.

Talking about married life, Mrs Barnett said: “He looks after me in every way – he’s just lovely. It doesn’t seem like 60 years.

“Every couple have ups and downs through married life but we are still very happy being together”.

And Mr Barnett added: “She is a darling in every way and words can never explain how much I love her”.

The couple also celebrated with a family barbecue.

Mrs Barnett said: “The postman must have thought something exciting was happening because of all the lovely cards we received. We even had one from Her Majesty The Queen and we must write back and thank her”.

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